Constitutional and Civil Rights Litigation of Note
Milburn, et al. v. Dogin, et al., 79-cv-5077 (SDNY) (now styled Beriquete v. Marcustello, 79-cv-5077)
The Firm was appointed as pro bono class Class Counsel along with Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz to represent a class of prisoners housed at Green Haven Correctional Facility in Stormville, New York. The case was initiated toward the beginning of the modern prison reform movement to remedy the inadequate and unconstitutional delivery of medical care to patients in the custody of New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. In 2015, the decades old Consent Order which guaranteed constitutionally adequate medical services was terminated, but after a reversal and remand by the Second Circuit, the Firm, along with its co-counsel, sought reinstatement of most aspects of the Consent Order. The Court has preliminarily approved a Modified Consent Order that seeks to guarantee constitutionally-required health care for the 1800+ prisoners housed at Green Haven.
Allen, et al. v. NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, et al., 19-cv-8173 (SDNY)
The Firm serves as Class Counsel for a class of incarcerated patients who require medications to treat chronic diseases and disabilities, like sickle cell anemia, late-stage cancers, paraplegia, neurological conditions, diabetes, HIV and major spinal conditions. In 2017, NYS DOCCS promulgated a "Medications with Abuse Potential" policy and used it as justification to strip plaintiff class members of medically appropriate and effective medications without individualized assessments or justification. In many cases, Plaintiff class members' medications were discontinued and no effective alternatives were prescribed – leaving patients to suffer with no recourse. The Firm successfully forced the State to rescind its policy, but in order to see that each and every patient unconstitutionally harmed by the policy is reassessed and administered effective treatment the Firm won class certification of an injunctive class and state-wide preliminary injunctions in March of 2023. In October of 2023, after a lengthy bench trial, the Firm won permanent injunctions on behalf of the Class forcing DOCCS to undertake a systemic and state-wide array of actions aimed at reassessing patients and ensuring that Class members receive constitutionally-mandated care.
James v. McCullough, et al., 17-cv-0843 (NDNY)
The Firm represents a group of Muslim plaintiffs whose Mosque Room was desecrated by employees of the New York State Department of Corrections directly after the Charlie Hedbo attacks in Paris, France. Plaintiffs state claims under the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection and pursuant to the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, 18 U.S.C. 248 (which protects access to places of worship as well). Plaintiffs were able to successfully settle the case and vacate the trial court's erroneous application of law on appeal.
Knight, et al. v. DOCCS, et al., 18-cv-7172 (SDNY)
The Firm serves as counsel for three disabled prisoners within the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision who must undertake intermittent self-catheterization to empty their bladders. The New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision was forcing the plaintiffs to rewash single-use catheters, causing them unnecessary infections, traumas and hospitalizations. The lawsuit successfully forced NYS DOCCS to change the policy and all patients now get sterile single-use catheters so they can avoid unnecessary infections. The Plaintiffs were awarded over $300,000 in settlement.
Medina v. Buther, 15-cv-1955 (SDNY)
The Firm represented a legally blind prisoner in a federal action against the New York State Department of Corrections and its employees. The complaint alleged three distinct Constitutional violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as well as violations of the ADA and Rehabilitation Acts. The district court granted mandatory injunctions against DOCCS, ordering them to treat the firm's client with effective medication and grant other ADA accommodations. A contempt proceeding was held in September of 2018, resulting in a 92 page opinion finding Defendants in contempt of court. See, Medina v. Buther, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23529 (S.D.N.Y. 2019). The parties subsequently settled the case for $500,000.00.
Stewart v. City of New York, 15-cv-7652 (SDNY)
The Firm successfully settled allegations against the City of New York for constitutional and ADA violations of the rights of a wheelchair-bound paraplegic. Before settlement, Ms. Agnew won a motion to enforce settlement in which the City tried to impose a general release that would have negated the victim's claims for other constitutional and ADA violations. See, Stewart v. City of New York, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 174155 (S.D.N.Y. 2017).
Sattinger and Birnbaum vs. Stonebridge Community Ass'n, MID-C-64-19 (N.J. Superior Court)
The Firm won a temporary restraining order and thereafter negotiated a consent order against a Home Owners Association that attempted to pass a "Campaign Resolution" which violated the free speech rights of residents. The Campaign Resolution attempted to forbid political t-shirts, bumper stickers, buttons and lawn signs in violation of home owners’ free speech rights guaranteed by the New Jersey Constitution. On Summary Judgment, the Firm won declaratory judgment that certain HOA provisions violated free speech protections.
Yuzuk v. Cedar Village Home Owners Association at East Brunswick (N.J. Superior Court)
The Firm won summary judgment on two claims that a Home Owners Association committed ultra vires acts when it passed Resolutions purporting to assert control over elements of homeowners' units. Ms. Agnew also successfully settled claims that the Home Owners Association Board passed an anti-leafletting resolution that contravened the New Jersey Supreme Court's holding in Dublirer v. 2000 Linwood Avenue Owners, Inc. et al. and engaged in free speech retaliation against a homeowner who challenged the Board's actions in leaflets and by filing suit.
RUSA v. Middlesex County Board of Elections
For the Rutgers Constitutional Rights Clinic, Ms. Agnew wrote several dispositive and appellate briefs on behalf of Plaintiffs requesting declaratory judgment that New Jersey’s advance voter registration deadline is unconstitutional in light of technological advances in New Jersey’s election law regime. Plaintiffs won a great appellate victory in 2014, forcing the trial court to redraft its summary judgment opinion.
Matter of X.X.
Ms. Agnew recently represented a first grade student in an emergent relief petition, whose district sought to remove him to a therapeutic school without first accommodating him in accordance with the ADA and IDEA. The petition was won and the student recently successfully completed his third grade year in public school with his mandated accommodations.
Matter of X.X.
Ms. Agnew represented a young, female high school student who suffered from anxiety and other psychological disorders and attempted suicide. The student’s private school attempted to expel her under a blanket removal policy. Ms. Agnew successfully settled the case before federal litigation. The student was readmitted with full school privileges and the school agreed to draft policies and procedures for proper accommodations for disabled students and proper removal procedures when a student attempts suicide. Removal procedures must not violate a students’ civil rights and an individualized inquiry must take place before a student is removed from their school. The school paid all the student’s attorney fees as part of the settlement.
Matter of X.X.
Ms. Agnew filed a Notice of Tort Claim against a school district who continued to employ a sports coach who had engaged in the harassment and belittlement of female students on two sports teams. Despite multiple incidents over several years the coach maintained his position. The case successfully resolved when the coach resigned in the face of litigation.